SIU strike continues, talks may resume soon

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - One of the unions at Southern Illinois University Carbondale says it is now on strike while the other three say they won't hit the picket lines.

The union representing SIUC's tenured faculty announced it was striking early Thursday.

Faculty Association representatives told Heartland News there were very little negotiations Wednesday night.  They say members of the university administration walked in, read a statement and walked out.

They say there was no negotiation at all.

The union says since both sides could not reach an agreement members hit the picket lines around 8 a.m.

This is the first time in school history that the faculty will have walked the picket lines.

All four Illinois Education Association-affiliated unions threatened to strike Thursday.

That left many of the 20,000 students wondering what will happen Thursday morning.  SIUC officials say they will have substitute faculty in classes and students are expected to attend.

While the Faculty Association says it's on strike, a notice posted on the Association of Civil Service Employees website says the ACsE has reached a tentative agreement with the university.

That means Civil Service employees will not be going on strike.

The website goes on to say the tentative agreement resolves issues surrounding job protection, unpaid closure, personal days and summer insurance for less than 12-month employees.

The GAU which represents graduate assistants also announced on its website that it had reached a tentative agreement with the university so it's members will also not be hitting the picket line.

Around 5:10 a.m. Thursday the Non Tenure Track Faculty Association announced online it had reached a tentative agreement with the university so it's members will not strike either.

As for the Faculty Association, SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng says there is a lot of ground yet to cover.  They are not back to bargaining yet.

"We've got a lot of things that are still out for discussion and the Faculty Association chose yesterday to leave rather than to negotiate," Cheng said.  "So, that we're hopping with some cool down period here we can get people back to the table and have a meeting of the minds."

One SIU student voiced what many of his peers went through during the day on Thursday.

"I was expecting to have class like normal, because I only heard one union was on strike," said SIU student Michael Ema. "But, it was canceled. I just signed in, kind of annoying. Now I just have to wait for the next class."

Yet, some of those striking just want to get back to teaching, and want what they feel is fair.

"I'm a 22-year-employee of this university. I'm a tenured faculty member.  I have dedicated my life to being a good teacher, I want to be back in the classroom," said Elyse Pineau. "I want to work with my graduate students, and I want a settlement that allows me to do that in ways that acknowledge the expertise I have, the commitment I've demonstrated, and the desire of my students who have been quite vocal to get qualified teachers back in the classroom."

However, not all members of the faculty association are on picket line.

Members of a group called "Faculty for Sensible Negotiation" say they will continue to teach their students and continue their research and not honor the strike.

A release from the group describes it as a grass roots effort to express their dissatisfaction with the union.

A spokesperson says they hope to collect enough signatures to bring up a vote to decertify or replace the faculty association union all together.

Graduate and Professional Student Council leadership at SIU Carbondale released a statement saying they support the strike and call on the administration to offer fair contracts to faculty.

The striking Faculty Association (FA) at SIUC held a briefing at 5 p.m. Friday in front of a picket line at the corner of Oakland and Chautauqua, Carbondale.

Friday evening, a representative of the SIU Board of Trustees Bargaining Team sent a message to Faculty Association lead negotiator Morteza Daneshdoost.  The message was the Board Team's willingness to resume bargaining with the help of a federal mediator, according to Randy Hughes, President of the SIU Faculty Association.

Hughes says the Faculty Association has agreed to resume bargaining, and hopes to have a mediator available and bargaining sessions scheduled by Sunday, November 6.

SIUC Unions United website

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